Bulgarian member of the European Parliament Andrey Kovatchev, who comes from the ruling GERB party, also responded to the BBC report about the century long repression of the Macedonian minority in Greece. According to Kovatchev, BBC should’ve named the minority as Bulgarian, not Macedonian, given that, according to the official Bulgarian position, Macedonians are Bulgarians.
I was very surprised several days ago when I read the report titled “Greece’s invisible minority – the Macedonian Slavs”. The article covers a very important topic – the historic minorities in northern Greece, which was taboo for many decades. Still, there is a major flaw in its historic overview that starts with the Balkan wars and covers the events until today. There is no doubt about the ethnic background of the non-Greek communities living in the contemporary northern Greek territories, the regions of Thrace and Macedonia. They are ethnic Bulgarians and this is recognized not only in international scientific archives but also in the Greek historic and scientific archives, Kovatchev says in an open letter sent to the BBC.
Greek diplomats officially reacted to the BBC and complained about its findings that Macedonians in the Greek held region Macedonians call Aegean Macedonia, have been repressed and denied the right to speak the Macedonian language, sing Macedonian songs, were exposed to summary executions and deportations. Many Greek nationalists reacted angrily online.
The Macedonian Foreign Affairs Ministry, on the other hand, told Republika that they will too react to the BBC, but for the several occasions in the text and in the title when the term “Macedonian Slavs” was used to describe the community, instead of Macedonians. According to the Macedonian MFA, the Prespa treaty provides that only the term Macedonians will be used to refer to the ethnic community, a point which Greece does not agree with.
According to Kovatchev, the minority population is Bulgarian, but in the period after the Second World War it was influenced by Yugoslavia and Marshall Tito to assume a Macedonian national identity. Kovatchev cites documents in which the ethnic structure of the Balkans has been investigated and the population exchange treaty which Bulgaria and Greece signed to further his claim that these minority Macedonians should be referred to as Bulgarians.
With the Prespa treaty and the treaty signed with Bulgaria, Macedonia gave up its right to support minority rights of Macedonians in both countries. This opens the door for Bulgaria to assume this role, in Greece and in Albania.